The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced new guidance on eligibility criteria for initial and renewal applications for employment authorization documents (EADs). The new guidelines clarify what the USCIS considers compelling circumstances as defined in existing regulatory requirements that are part of immigrant petitions (8 CFR 204.5(p)).
These changes generally apply to those with an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, in either the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd employment-based preference category. Principle applicants generally have valid E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, O-1, or L-1 nonimmigrant status or authorized grace period when filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. These changes are designed to acknowledge and assist individuals and families with visas or applying for visas caught up in difficult situations.
The EAD requirements are based on regulations, details and facts, but compelling circumstances can be broader and harder to categorize in a list of requirements. The guidance applies to principal applicants and dependents. The list of scenarios is not exhaustive but includes situations that could indicate compelling circumstances:
- Serious illness or disability
- Employer dispute or retaliation
- Substantial harm to the applicant
- Significant disruption to the employer
Gathering and using the compelling circumstances
The new guidance also instructs applicants on effectively demonstrating the compelling circumstances. For example, the applicant in an over-subscribed visa or chargeability area (country of origin) could provide such evidence to secure a waiver from a no further stay condition:
- School enrollment records show that they or a dependent are in the middle of a key program or class.
- A natural disaster in the U.S. or their country of origin makes it difficult or unsafe to return.
- War, unrest or conflict in the country of origin makes the country of origin dangerous or hard to earn a living in.
- Mortgage records show that the family would be forced to sell the home if forced to leave.
- Leaving would cause the employer severe economic difficulty.
Not sure if you have compelling circumstances?
USCIS regulations often involve changing deadlines and policy updates, so it is often wise to work with immigration firms that understand the policies, changes, and how to meet challenges that arise during the application or renewal process. Feel free to contact us for a free case evaluation.